Diamonds in the Sky
Ruby patted down the earth in front of her, then carefully replaced all the tributes and effigies in front of the altar. No one could ever know what happened here. Her mother would be livid if she found out. Once everything was back in its place, Ruby sat on her knees and wondered if her endeavour would work.
Just then, she heard someone approaching. She glanced up to see her brother Ivan emerge from the trees. When he saw Ruby on her knees, he grinned.
“Praying hard?” He asked. Ruby’s newfound piety was an endless source of amusement for Ivan.
With an enigmatic smile, Ruby got to her feet. “Someone has to pray for your soul, right?”
“My soul?” Ivan let out a harsh laugh. “It’s not my soul that needs saving. Maybe you should direct some of your prayers toward our new king. Before he kills us all.”
“Prayer and vengeance are not the same thing.” Ruby brushed dirt from her dress.
Ivan shook his head. “No, dear sister, they certainly aren’t.” He held out his hand. “Come on. Mother sent me to fetch you. Dinner is ready.”
Together, the siblings walked back to their house, both trying to avert their gazes from the burned land to the south. To the north, the Black Castle loomed over the valley. Ever since the new king had murdered his cousin and stolen the crown, the castle seemed even darker and more sinister. Knowing there were hundreds of so-called traitors’ heads lining the castle walls might have something to do with that, Ruby thought. Knowing one of those heads belonged to her father made her blood boil.
The usurper had spies everywhere, so Ruby lowered her eyes and willed her anger to subside. She wanted to live to see tomorrow.
As they entered their house, the scent of stew warmed Ruby’s heart and elicited grumbles of longing from her stomach. She and Ivan sat at the table and tried to talk about safe things, like the weather and how well things were growing in the garden. After dinner, their mother sat by the fire and drank spiced mead until the despair receded from her eyes while Ruby and Ivan sat at the table and played cards.
Once their mother was asleep, Ivan talked about his plans for revenge, which were rife with fury and fantasy.
“If only there were dragons—or a powerful wizard, or an undead army—that would fight with us. We could destroy the usurper in an instant and make things right again.”
“Tell me again about the dragons,” Ruby said.
Ivan smiled. “They are huge, with wingspans that can block out the sun, and black scales that gleam like polished armor. Their eyes are the colour of fire and their hearts are made of molten lava, which runs in their veins and allows them to breathe out flames at will.” Ivan’s eyes sparkled like black diamonds as he continued. “They are so beautiful and so terrifying, you would be mesmerized if you laid eyes on them. And they are smart too.”
“Can they really smell evil?” Ruby asked. Her eyes were starting to droop, but still she hung on Ivan’s every word.
“Not only can they smell it, but they are also drawn to it. Their purpose is to destroy evil and restore balance to the world.”
“Then why did they leave?” Ruby asked, as she always did.
Ivan smiled again, only this time his eyes looked sad. “People stopped believing in them.”
Ruby stood up and walked over to her brother. “Not everyone,” she said. Then she kissed his cheek and made her way to her bedroom.
Her dreams were full of molten eyes and shimmering obsidian scales.
She awakened just as dawn stretched its fingers up into the sky. At first, Ruby thought she was hearing echoes from her dreams, but the sound came again. Quickly, she pulled on her clothes and ran outside.
Ivan was already there, standing on the hill, watching the sky.
Twenty dragons, maybe more, circled the castle. Occasionally, their scales caught the light from the rising sun, making them sparkle like magnificent gems in the sky. They called to each other, and as one, they began to breathe fire over the usurper’s lair.
Ivan turned to look at Ruby, his eyes bright with fear and awe. “What did you do?”
Ruby smiled. “I prayed for vengeance.”
This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy writing challenge, in which we had to write a piece of fiction or poetry (up to 750 words), that included the following line: “No one could ever know what happened here” and also made some sort of reference to the song Counting Stars, by OneRepublic.
Image credit: Google images